Agency Forms and Guidelines

Guidelines and form sets for major federal, state, and other sponsors.

Instructions for Submitting to a Federal Agency

When submitting a proposal to a federal sponsor, first review the proposal guidelines thoroughly to determine the deadline, required forms, and any additional information pertinent to the proposal submission. Typically all federal proposals are submitted with full Facilities and Administrative costs (F&A); however, some federal agencies such as USDA may restrict F&A. Be sure to read the guidelines carefully to identify the appropriate rates. To see the FAQ for F&A, click here.

Most federal grants are submitted via Most NSF proposals are submitted via FastLane, but some NSF Directorates are beginning to accept proposals via

NSF has an excellent guide, entiteled "Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide" (PAPPG) which addresses many questions of first-time NSF applicants and awardees. 

--- Federal Forms and Guidelines

Major Federal Sponsors


Department of Defense

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

National Institutes of Health

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

National Science Foundation (NSF)

--- Representations & Certifications

Often a sponsor will require completion of Representations and Certifications (commonly referred to as Reps & Certs) as part of the proposal submission package. Penn Stat’s institutional Reps & Certs, which are required in order to do business with the U.S. Government, can be found at the U.S. Government’s System for Award Management  (SAM).  Some sponsors, primarily Federal Agencies, contractors or labs, will not accept the Reps & Certs found in SAM, but instead require completion of their own version.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of sponsor-provided Reps & Certs that have been completed and reviewed for accuracy, as of the date noted:

The above may be used as a guide for other sponsors, to the extent their Reps & Certs are substantively the same. Please note that sponsor Reps and Certs can change frequently, so if you receive forms with a different date or form number than that attached above, or if you are unsure about how to answer a specific question, please contact the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) for assistance.

For Frequently Requested Financial Information, please click Here.

Instructions for Submitting to Industry

Many industry proposals do not require the use of specific guidelines or form sets. (Obviously, if you are responding to a specific industry Request for Proposals (RFP), you will want to follow the guidelines provided.) However, there are a number of things to know about submitting proposals to industry:

 1. Penn State has developed a number of agreement templates for industry use. By including the appropriate agreement with your industry proposal, you may expedite the processing of the resultant award.

 2. Proposals funded with industry internal research and development (IRAD) funds are subject to an additional 5% F&A. Industry proposals funded with federal flow-through funds are not.

3.  It is advised that Proposals to NEW Industry Sponsors should include a copy of the Fundamental Principals document in the Proposal Package.  For the Fundamental Principals document click HERE. 

Instructions for Utilizing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (COP) Master Agreement

Penn State has negotiated a new 5-year Master Agreement with the Department of General Services (DGS). All COP agencies may issue purchase orders to Penn State via this master agreement. (Please note that PennDOT has established a separate master agreement with Penn State for specific research projects). A number of COP agencies also issue grants to Penn State, which are not typically flowed through the COP Master Agreement.


Request for Proposal/Proposal Submission Process

For all projects intended to be issued under the COP Master Agreement, the COP agency will issue Attachment 1 (Agency Request–Work Plan) to Penn State.  Attachment 1 information will include: requested project and time frame, copyright ownership selection, reporting requirements, and source of funds (Penn State can then include the appropriate F&A rate in its response).  If the COP agency has identified the Penn State Principal Investigator (PI) for the requested project, Attachment 1 will be sent directly to the PI who should then contact their contracts and grants office to prepare the proposal.  If the PI is not known or identified, Attachment 1 will be sent to Diane Crebs who will post the request to Penn States’ proposal listserve.

Penn State will respond to the COP agency utilizing Attachment 2  (DRAFT University Response). Attachment 2 will include a draft SOW, a detailed budget, and a summary budget (see below for details regarding the budgets to be provided). Following review by the COP agency (and DGS for proposals >$100K), the COP agency will sign and return Attachment 2 to Penn State either accepting the proposal 'as is' or requesting any changes.  Penn State will then submit Attachment 3 (FINAL University Response) with the final scope of work, budget, and final equipment list to the COP agency as the final proposal. 

Additional COP Master Agreement attachments. Upon completion or cancellation of any purchase order issued under the Master Agreement, Penn State must submit a Report of Personal Property form (Attachment 4) within 60 days.  Further details regarding the reporting process can be found in the highlight document at the link below.   If protected health information (PHI) will be provided to Penn State as part of a project, Attachment 5 (Business Associate Agreement) will be included with the purchase order. If PHI is provided in a limited data set, the COP agency will include with the purchase order a Data Use Agreement (DUA). A sample DUA was provided to Penn State during negotiation of the Master Agreement but a final version was not included with the final version of the master agreement.  As of the date of execution of the COP Master Agreement, the DUA format was not available.  Attachment 6, Certification of Restrictions of Lobbying (applies if the project is federal flow-through funding) was completed at the time of Master Agreement execution and therefore does not need to be completed for individual purchase orders.

COP Master Agreement budget submissions.

  • The first budget is a detailed budget, such as is created in SIMSbudgets. COP agencies use this budget for the review and evaluation of the project. If the project has a budget of $100,000 or greater, the COP agency will forward to DGS for further review. DGS may contact Penn State for additional detail as needed to evaluate the proposed costs or project.
  • The second budget is a summary budget broken into six major categories:  (1) Personnel (includes tuition when requested by Penn State and approved by the COP agency or DGS when appropriate), (2) Operational (includes all other direct costs and expendable equipment not included in one of the other major categories), (3) Subcontracting (includes purchased services), (4) Capital Equipment (cost to purchase and cost to rent the equipment – Agency or DGS will then determine which option and advise their selection), (5) Administrative Fees (when allowable/applicable), and (6) Travel. This budget is used by the COP agency to issue the purchase order to Penn State. Under the provisions of the COP Master Agreement, Penn State must obtain prior approval before shifting funds from one major category to another. Budget revision requests should be submitted to the COP agency and if accepted, an amendment to the purchase order will be issued.  If you receive a purchase order issued based on the detailed budget, please contact the COP agency and request a revised purchase order based on the summary budget.

For some quick highlights regarding travel, equipment and expendable property, and invoicing related to the new COP Master Agreement, click here.

--- Guidance on F&A on Commonwealth Proposals

For purchase orders issued under the COP Master Agreement, the COP agency must identify the source of funds per the requirements of Attachment 1 to the master agreement. When submitting proposals to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (COP) that will not be funded under the COP master agreement, it is imperative that you determine the original source of funding prior to preparing a budget. The Commonwealth is required to identify the source of funding; if they do not, refer them to Commonwealth Management Directive 305.21. If the funding is 100% federal flow-through, the budget must be prepared with the appropriate F&A for the applicable federal agency.  If the funding is 100% COP funds, F&A is not collected unless the COP agency has established rules for reimbursing F&A. If the funding is a mix of Federal and COP funds, the budget must be split to show the appropriate F&A on each portion of the project.

If the COP agency cannot identify the source of funding at the time of the proposal, the proposal should be submitted at the appropriate federally negotiated rate. This will prompt the COP agency to reply if the funding is not federal. If the project is later determined to be 100% state funds or a combination of state and federal, the F&A can be recalculated at that time and a revised budget submitted.

Additional guidance on charging F&A to COP grants and contracts can be found here.

--- Frequently Asked Questions - Commonwealth Master Agreement

Working with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – Master Agreement Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Are there any special requirements for submitting proposals when using the master agreement?

A: The master agreement has its own set of attachments (1-3) for submitting proposals. Please see the instructions and forms in the ‘Instructions for Utilizing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (COP) Master Agreement’  section above.

Q2: Are there any special requirements for budgets when submitting a master agreement proposal?

A: The master agreement requires the submission of both a detailed and summary budget. The detailed budget is for the Commonwealth’s review and evaluation of the project. The detailed budget (a sample template can be found here) is used by the Commonwealth to create the line items of the purchase order. See the section titled 'COP Master Agreement budget submissions' in the 'Instructions for Utilizing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvanis (COP) Master Agreement' section above for details.

Q3: Is there a special budget note to be used when submitting a proposal/budget under the master agreement?

A: A separate budget note page has been created to include reference to applicability of Commonwealth travel rates and removal of the reference to ONR as our cognizant agency. Click here for the budget note page to be used for Commonwealth Master Agreement proposals.

Q4: What do I do if the Commonwealth agency states the proposal Attachments 1-3 are not required as part of the proposal process?

A: Per the Commonwealth’s Department of General Services, the Attachments 1-3 are required for all master agreement proposals/subsequent purchase orders – there are NO exceptions.

Q5: What if the Commonwealth does not sign proposal Attachments 1 and/or 2?

A: As the Commonwealth’s signature on Attachment 1 signifies the information provided by the agency is accurate (for example source of funding) and their signature on Attachment 2 acknowledges acceptance of our proposal, the Commonwealth’s signature is required. If the COP signature is missing, please contact the agency and request they provide a copy of the attachment(s) with the appropriate/authorized COP signature.

Q6: What do I do if a purchase order received under the COP master agreement has terms and conditions/requirements inconsistent with the master?

A: Individual agencies are not to include terms that conflict with the master agreement nor are they to incorporate additional terms and conditions.  First, contact the agency and ask for conflicting/additional clauses to be removed. If they are unwilling to do so, contact Tim Stodart in the Office of Sponsored Programs who will contact the Department of General Services to address the situation.

Q7: For purchase orders issued under the master agreement, what date should be used as the start date: Effective Date, Issue Date, or start date if listed in the body of the purchase order?

A: Per the Commonwealth’s Department of General Services, the Effective Date on the purchase order is what we should use – this is the date the funds were approved/encumbered by the Commonwealth (see exception below). The Issue Date may be different that the Effective Date as the Issue Date is strictly the date the purchase order was actually printed.  Exception: If another start date/period of performance is listed in the body of the purchase order, these dates should be utilized. In the event there are still questions regarding the period of performance, contact the negotiator assigned to process the award and ask them to seek clarification from the sponsor.

Q8: What are the rebudgeting requirements for master agreement purchase orders? What do I need to do?

A: As each line item on the purchase order is a ‘ceiling’ amount, any change that will result in a line item ceiling being exceeded will require a formal rebudget request and approval. To keep rebudgeting requests to a minimum, it is important that the purchase order be issued using the summary budget vs. detailed budget (see the ‘COP Master Agreement budget submissions’ section of the ‘Instructions for Utilizing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (COP) Master Agreement’ section above.

Q9: My proposal budget includes a request to purchase some computer equipment – is there anything special I need to do?

A: The master agreement states we must use the Commonwealth’s statewide contract for pricing and procurement of computer equipment. At the proposal stage, contact Raymond Jaime at (717) 346-3827 or to obtain a quote. This pricing should be included in the proposal budget. When the award is received, contact the agency purchasing agent listed on the purchase order to provide the quote details and they will order the equipment and have it shipped to the University. QUESTION FOR MATT FIDLER: WHAT IF COMPUTER NEEDED IS NOT AVAILABLE THROUGH STATEWIDE CONTRACT?

Q10: Who owns equipment purchased on a Commonwealth master agreement purchase order?

A: The Commonwealth will retain ownership of all capital equipment (>$5,000) and expendable property (<$5,000) defined as “includes, but is not limited to, such items as global positioning systems (GPS), computers, microscopes, tractors, and all-terrain vehicles (ATV). Expendable property does not include such items as office supplies, safety gear, ATV parts, laboratory supplies, etc.”  Please see the master agreement highlight document for a brief summary on purchasing equipment and reporting/disposition instructions. Additionally, see master agreement Change Order #3  for the reporting form and detailed reporting/disposition instructions.

Q11: Who do I contact at the Commonwealth if I have a question or need assistance specific to the master agreement?

A: For questions or assistance related to the master agreement, contact Sonya Schurtz, Commodity Specialist at the Commonwealth’s Department of General Services. Sonya can be reached at 717-783-0761 or

Instructions for Submitting to a Foundation

Most foundations post proposal guidelines on their websites. Some general information about foundations can be found at the Foundation Center. Most foundations only fund projects within a certain targeted topical and/or geographical area; it generally is not useful to try to convince them to fund projects outside their area of interest. University Development (Foundation Relations) works with several large foundations as well as most of the PA-based foundations. They encourage faculty to contact them to discuss ways of pursuing these funds. Most foundations do not pay full Facilities and Administrative costs (F&A), so it is important to review the guidelines carefully. The University of Wisconsin maintain a fairly comprehensive listing of F&A rates permitted by major U.S. foundations.